25in25: A Public Art Retrospective – Park

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Marko Simcic’s Park activates streetscapes and bicycle routes with two moveable artworks that encumber the normal relations of the street. Each approximately the size and weight of a small automobile, they rest temporarily in curb lane parking spots, and are relocated from time to time to various addresses along the route.

Marko Simcic – Park, 2008 - Photo Credit Howard Ursuliak

City of Vancouver Public Art Program – Park, 2008 (UDW 87H, 4400 block of Ontario Street, Vancouver, BC October 2008) by Marko Simcic | Photo by Howard Ursuliak

Unlike the vehicles that make huge claims on our environment, these particular models are not mass-produced. Completely ‘custom’, the sculptures were cast in stainless steel, ground and sandblasted over the course of several years. In the process of making its way to the street, Park involved extensive design reviews that informed its final delivery and form. Subject to the same analysis as other mobile objects taking space on city streets, the Park ‘cars’ are licensed as floats, the closest suitable category under ICBC’s index. Ironically, the sculptures’ resemblance to the form and conditions of automobiles allowed the project to move forward. By displacing cars, by standing in for them, Park encourages us to consider the overbuilt personal objects that we buy, buff, maintain and identify with, and the space we give them in our daily lives. Stripped of utility, these objects make the most of sculpture’s capacity to encourage thinking, in multiple ways, simultaneously.

Marko Simcic – Park, 2008 - Photo Credit Howard Ursuliak

City of Vancouver Public Art Program – Park, 2008 (UDW 87H, 3966 Ontario Street, Vancouver, BC October 2008) by Marko Simcic | Photo by Howard Ursuliak

At first glance, parked amongst the rows of automobiles, the vehicles are comic anomalies in a familiar landscape. Should our curiosity slow us down, their profile echoes a distant horizon of peaks and valleys, dully reflective and weighty. Approach more closely and their surface is a fascinating and complex tableau of drapery shrouding familiar forms: lawn chairs facing one another, a picnic complete with portable barbecue and crockery. Inspired by the tarp-covered accumulations of stored objects in semi-private spaces like carports or walkways, but placed in configurations that suggest human interaction, these ‘cars’ become sombre, almost funereal monuments to moments of leisure and domesticity. They seem more solid than they are, much heavier and less mobile than the cars they displace. Having slipped past the boundaries marked by curbs and yellow lines, beyond the places we may expect to see art, Park invites a slower encounter than ordinarily found on a city street, our most symbolic public space.

Marko Simcic – Park - Photo Credit Howard Ursuliak

Park, 2008 by Marko Simcic | Photo by Howard Ursuliak

The Park project is both static and dynamic. Prototypes with no practical application, the sculptures’ substantial yet fragile presence will appear and disappear—next to schools or parks, commercial properties to the north, or in front of the homes of residents who have chosen to ‘adopt’ them by making their designated parking spot available. These residents, initially contacted through direct mail, have in some cases collaborated in curating the Park sites in their neighbourhoods, in a long-term relay extending over years. Cars are a paradox of convenience and inconvenience, and carry the concepts of autonomy and individual freedom. Park plays with what the streets permit, provoking a consideration of the short history of our attachment to the automobile and a reconsideration of its future.

By Lorna Brown – Brown is a Vancouver-based artist, independent curator and writer.

Read more about the project in this article from 2008 by the Georgia Straight.



Marko Simcic during fabrication in the studio at the City of Vancouver’s National Works Yard. Photo: Howard Ursuliak

About the Artist

Marko Simcic is an artist and architect, and his parallel practice explores a set of ideas shared by the two disciplines. Using the practice of drawing as a link, Simcic considers the concepts of boundary and encounter, material and surface, duration and the effects of time that are relevant to both architecture and public art. Initially proposed in 2002, Park has evolved through extensive research and civic engagement, and is open to many potential futures. Other sited works include Light Ring (2007), a collaborative project in Richmond, Untitled (Terra Nova) (1999) in Richmond, and Utility Pole (1997) in Vancouver. Simcic’s architectural work has been published nationally and internationally and he is the recipient of a Lieutenant Governor’s Award in 2008.

Park is currently (March 2016) occupying sites near 955 West 19th Avenue and 911 East 59th Avenue. The future public presence of Park , in large part, will depend upon ongoing interest and participation by the citizens of Vancouver. For more information, contact the City of Vancouver’s Public Art Program at publicart@vancouver.ca or 604-871-6038

Culture - Public Art - 25th Anniversary - 25in25 series - logo - footer - colour

The City of Vancouver’s Public Art Program celebrates 25 years of creating extraordinary artworks for public spaces. Every two weeks during 2016 we’ll share the story of a unique artwork created through the program. Over 260 pieces have been commissioned since 1991 through civic initiatives, community grants or private sector rezoning requirements. These are only a few of the key pieces that have helped to define Vancouver as a unique place and a world-class city for public art!

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